For children coming of age in the 21st century, online platforms have shaped the lives of these young people more than any other generation. These children are no strangers to using smartphones, electronic tablets and computers as tools for learning and communicating. Google is the cure for this generation’s inquisitiveness, and sharing thoughts, photos and ideas through social media is like second nature.
On Nov. 13, Comcast partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington to introduce the “My Future,” initiative, which wasdesigned for youth at the Richard England Clubhouse in Northeast, D.C. The clubhouse is located in Ward 7 and is historically known as having one of the highest African-American populations and most under-served residents in the city.
Comcast provided the non-profit organization with $100,000 to fund the clubhouse’s fully renovated technology center.
“We are worried about students starting out behind and not being able to catch up,” said Charisse Lillie, vice president of community investment at Comcast and president of the Comcast Foundation, in an interview with the AFRO.
The initiative, which is part of a five-year partnership between the two entities, reaches nearly 4 million youth in over 4,100 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country. Out of the 12 clubhouses in the D.C. metro area, only one was chosen as an anchor for the project.
“We have need here, why shouldn’t we do it here,” said Pandit F. Wright, president and CEO at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.
She said she hopes that the new technology can entice more young people to visit the clubhouse on a more consistent basis.
District youth now get personalized, hands-on experiences in the digital realm through the initiative. This program encourages safe and productive online interactions with over 40 activities that reinforce digital literacy, including exploring the web, communicating with others and building media. Children are also encouraged to tap into interests that could potentially lead to careers in robotics, coding, game design and online journalism.
“When they walked into the computer lab, the smiles on their faces is what mattered most,” said Dr. Damon Williams, senior vice president and chief educational and youth development officer at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.